A release from the Victorian National Parks Association on a recent proposal to open up national parks for private tourism facilities.

MEDIA RELEASE – Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Tourism facilities in national parks could kill the ‘golden goose’

Mount Hotham

The Victorian National Parks Association says a recommendation by the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission, to open up national parks for private tourism facilities, is simplistic and would be a dangerous new direction for park management.

“National Parks are becoming a victim of their own success. They are popular and much loved, but now private companies want a piece of the action in a public asset designed to protect nature for the future”.

“There is a danger of killing the goose that lays the golden egg. People visit national parks for an experience they can’t get elsewhere – they want the opportunity to experience the natural world.    There is ample opportunity for tourism infrastructure adjacent to parks, where financially viable developments can take place without the more onerous conditions necessarily imposed on infrastructure inside parks.

The VCEC recommendations contradict Victoria’s current, and widely respected, Nature Based Tourism Strategy, which states that “Private investment into any new large scale facility, particularly accommodation other than adaptive re-use of existing infrastructure, should be sited outside the park”.

“There is a lot of tourism potential on private land adjacent to our national parks which allows for certainty of investment, particularly in and around regional towns,” said Mr Ruchel.

“The VCEC draft report fails to appreciate the public land tenure system and its landscape context. Over 60% of Victorian land is privately owned and 80-90% of that has already been cleared. National parks and conservation reserves make up only approx about 18% of the land in Victoria, and are a refuge for plants and animals in a state with relatively little intact native habitat left.”

“The State Government must rule out new major infrastructure in national parks and re-commit to the principles outlined in Victoria’s existing Nature Based Tourism Strategy.”

“The change we need in national park management is a solid commitment to managing our unique natural heritage for all Victoria’s and future generations” he concluded.

For further comment contact:
Matt Ruchel: 0418-357-813
Phil Ingamells: 0427 705 133